Bill Diodato’s Care of Ward 81

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The Hidden Beauty of Unknown Lives

In Care of Ward 81, photographer Bill Diodato chronicles the downfall of institutional services in the United States and its subsequent effect on the women who inhabited these establishments.

In 2005, while Diodato was visiting Salem, Oregon, in order to photograph the cremated remains of the 3,500 “forgotten” patients at the Oregon State Insane Asylum, he was granted access to Ward 81 — the place where many women affected by mental illness were treated and isolated from the rest of society. Realizing that he would be the last to access and document the conditions of this ward, Bill Diodato was driven by an inner “sense of responsibility to remember the women” who spent the majority of their lives within the walls of the psychiatric institution.

Care of Ward 81 captures not only the decay and desolation of the ward, but also the hidden beauty of lives that remain unknown to us. The harshness of the ward’s devastation is brightly contrasted by a softer, more colorful world that shines through the decay. The result is a hauntingly beautiful collection of imagery that stimulates the senses and conjures the imagination.

Diodato, who has been working as a conceptual photographer for over fifteen years, is renowned for his commercial and fine arts photography. He has received critical acclaim and worldwide exposure in a number of books, magazines, and films.

Care of Ward 81 is available in a first edition of 1,000 copies — 200 of which are still available for $50. The book is also available in a signed, numbered, and slipcased edition with both the book and the slipcase bound in Japanese Saifu cloth for $250.

Signed books may be purchased directly through the photographer by contacting Linda Hilfiker at 212-563-1724 or via her email at linda@lhproduction.com. For more information, visit Diodato’s blog by clicking here.

Bill Diodato in Graphis:

Photography Annual 2006

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